Hannibal Swearing Eternal Enmity toward Rome

Hannibal Swearing Eternal Enmity toward Rome

c. 1808

Pen and black and brown ink, brush and brown and gray wash, and white paint over graphite

Support: Three sheets of gray-green laid paper (faded from blue), laid down on multi-ply paper board

Sheet: 34.4 x 42.9 cm (13 9/16 x 16 7/8 in.)

Bequest of Muriel Butkin 2008.349

Description

This scene from ancient history shows a moment in the boyhood of the great Carthaginian general Hannibal (247-about 183 bc). While sacrificing to the gods in preparation for a military campaign, Hannibal's father decided to have his son swear an oath to remain the eternal enemy of Rome. At the center of the composition, the nine-year-old Hannibal imitates the gesture and stance of his father, while a bull is sacrificed below. The unknown creator of the scene probably planned to make a larger painting of it because important events from antiquity, such as this one, were typical subjects for the period. In addition, the overall use of pen and brush with white highlights for modeling was a technique frequently used to finalize a composition before realization on a larger scale in oil.

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